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10.21.09

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Phaedra

Stairway to Kronos

One of the coolest things we've heard of all year

By Gabe Meline


The Oliver Ranch is one of those places you hear about but never see. Famously closed to the public but hosting a veritable who's who of modern sculpture—Richard Serra, Bruce Nauman, Andy Goldsworthy—the 90-acre ranch is the local art world's Wonka factory, with hordes of fans hoping for a golden ticket from its dedicated, reclusive owner.

That owner is Steve Oliver, former chairman at the SFMOMA and avid art collector, and golden tickets have been released for an intriguing, enlightening concert inside the Oliver Ranch's piece de resistance, the staggeringly bold 80-foot tower by artist Ann Hamilton. The concrete, cylindrical tower is massive, outfitted with two intertwining staircases which spiral toward the open sky like double helixes. Below is a pool of water, and above is the tower's open-air top story, boasting an incomparable view. And get this—the stairs serve as both seats for the audience and the performance stage for the Kronos Quartet this weekend.

The insanely unique experience includes the world premiere of Purnati, by Indonesian composer Rahayu Supanggah. Supanggah himself will play the gendér, a metallophone instrument housed in wood which usually leads the traditional Balinese gamelan ensemble. Did we mention that it's inside an 80-foot tower? And that the stage isn't a stage but is actually this crazy staircase? We did? Good.

A post-concert reception follows in downtown Geyserville at Terroirs Artisan Wines with hors d'oeuvres and wine; the composer and performers will be on hand to talk about—what else?—how bizarre and amazing it was to perform inside an 80-foot tower. This is something you might think is organized by an eclectic arts foundation out of New York, but in actuality it's a benefit for the Santa Rosa Symphony, who redeem years of Broadway pops concerts with this one cutting-edge, exhilarating event.

Unless you spent $500 to see Meredith Monk sing inside the Ann Hamilton tower last year, chances are this is something you have never done. Seize the opportunity to not only step inside the Wonka factory of art and support the Santa Rosa Symphony, but to also hear a world-renowned composer collaborate with the Kronos Quartet inside an amazing 80-foot tower on Friday, Oct. 23, the Oliver Ranch. Shuttles leave in various locations in Geyserville. 4pm. $125 includes reception; $75 tax-deductible. 707.546.8742. For more info and pictures of the 80-foot tower, see www.santarosasymphony.com.


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